Publisher/Editor: W. D. Cheek, Sr. aka "Dr. Rigormortis” _V2N9: October, 1992
The WORLD SCANNER REPORT
A Journal of VHF-UHF Scanner Technology & Engineering ISSN 1061-9240
Published at COMMtronics Engineering; PO Box 262478; San Diego, CA 92196; Copyright (c) 1991-2 <A11 Rights Reserved> $4.oo
MY, HOW TIME DOES FLY
When you're having fun.and drags when you're not!
October already! And the cold winter storms are about
to sweep down upon the unwary and unexpecting! With
possible exception of Florida, most of this country's (and
Canada's) weather will soon turn about-face to make it
not a lot of fun to perform antenna and other outdoor
maintenance. You might as well grab your tool kit, steel
wool, various kinds of tape and other materials and get
those antennas ready for the long, cold winter. Gunky
and corroded aluminum should be polished bright and
smooth with medium steel wool. Iron & steel hardware
should be wire-brushed clean of excessive bird
droppings, rust and layers of summer residue. Replace
aged or deteriorated coaxial cable. Tape it securely in
place so that the wind doesn't blow it about. Raise the
antenna another ten feet or so, if you can handle it.
(There is no single greater determinant of radio station
performance than height of the antenna above ground!)
Tape all connectors to seal them from rain, snow and
condensation. Tighten nuts & bolts; secure guy wires
and give every exterior part of your station a good once¬
over visual inspection along with any needed corrective
and preventative maintenance. I'll never forget one cold
winter's day in the Colorado High Country when an
element of my Moonraker 6 Directional Beam antenna
blew off during a blizzard. Die-hard radioist that I am,
my sons and I went out; cranked down the tower and
reinstalled that element, all the while the temperature
hovered around 0-F. Ask us how much fun that was!
RENEWAL TIME APPROACHING
Thanks to those who have already renewed for 1993.
Others may wish to look at the EXPIRES DATE on the
mailing label and if it says Nov-1992, this would be a
good time to renew before you get caught up in the
expense and rush of the coming holidays. Subscriptions
are easily forgotten and then easily procrastinated. If
you profit from and enjoy the "WSR", you should plan
for your renewal before it's too late. If your subscription
is about to expire, we'll remind you next month in the last
issue of 1992. As a reminder, we now accept
MasterCard and Visa, if more convenient for you.
WARNING: RADIO SHACK’S DIODE
PACKS MAY CONTAIN WRONG TYPES!
I have learned the hard way that Radio Shack's bulk
packages of switching diodes may NOW contain
undesirable types in addition to the specified
1N914/1N4148 types! I encountered a large number of
flaky diodes that do not perform properly as isolation
diodes! BEWARE! I built and installed an HB-232
project tonight and fretted and stewed for hours,
knowing damned good and well that I made no errors,
but about half or 2/3 of the project functions wouldn't
work! Finally in desperation, I began signal path tracing
thru some diodes, and used a diode continuity test
function on my multimeter, and lo! And behold! I saw
where 3 of 8 diodes had the correct voltage drop of .58-
.65 volts but five were as low as .35 volts! This is not
typical of silicon switching diodes, and when replaced
with the correct diodes, my project worked perfectly.
I rechecked those funky diodes and they were good, but
definitely NOT the 1N914/1N4148 desired type. In fact,
the funky diodes had a part number on them as follows:
SD 150 -1 . Good diodes out of the Radio Shack pack
had various numbers that didn't mean anything to me, so
there's no sense to repeat them here, but the above part
number definitely has a forward voltage drop of 0.35-
volts which is not good for most uses.
If you purchased bulk packs of switching diodes from
Radio Shack, catalog # 276-1122 or 276-1620, you're
either going to have to test them before use or at least
cull any with the part number SD 150 -1 . It is best to
test them before use. Testing with a multimeter diode
test function, the reading should equal or exceed 0.55-
volts and be less than 0.68 volts. But what if your
multimeter doesn't have a diode test function? It's still
easy to test silicon diodes. Here's how:
Connect a 1000-ohm resistor to the anode (unbanded
end) of the suspect diode. Connect the (-) lead of a 1.5-
volt battery (or power supply of 1.5 to 5 volts) to the
cathode end of the diode (banded end), and connect the
(+) lead of the battery to the free end of the 1000-ohm
resistor. Now connect the (-) lead of a voltmeter to the
connection of the cathode of the diode and the (-) lead of the
battery (Point Y below). Connect the (+) lead of the voltmeter to
the anode of the diode (Point X below) and read the corresponding
voltage drop across the diode. It should read between 0.55 and
0.68 volts. Discard the diode if the reading is more or less than
that just specified! Here's a drawing of the test setup:
Sooooo, if your electronic project is not perfect in all respects, you
might just test for flaky diodes and replace any with the proper
types! This is especially pertinent to the HB-232
Scanner/Computer Interface where eight diodes are used for a very
critical purpose. If you're having trouble with your HB-232, check
HB-232 INTERFACE UPDATE
It's official: the Charley Test of the HB-232 Scanner/Computer
Interface is over. Effective Oct 1, the price of the Kit is $169.95 +
$5 S&H. However, the readers of another magazine were given
until October 14 to take advantage of the special Charley Test
price. We can do no less for readers of the "WSR". Accordingly,
if you will mention your subscription number along with payment
in full, the old price of $129.95 + $5 S&H is yours through October
14, 1992 after which the new price shall be firm and fixed.
The Charley Test of the HB-232 brought to light a lot of interesting
perspectives by average hobbyists that weren't available to us in the
Beta Test. Many changes to the software were recommended and
we uncovered a few little bugs here and there. It is expected that
the Release Version 1.0 of the HB-232 Program will be available
on or about October 15, 1992. Charley Testers will be welcome to
download the Release version from the Hertzian Intercept BBS at
no cost, or to receive a disk of choice by mail for $5 S&H.
One interesting change in the software utilizes the little known
EEPROM on the HB-232's microprocessor chip and which
eliminates the need to RESTART the scanner upon bootup. Other
expected changes or enhancements will include a user color-menu,
bug fixes, and better program documentation.
NEW BBS JOINS THE HB-232 NETWORK
The HB-232_C Tech Support Conference & the RADIO TEK
general radio technical conference are now being carried by The
HighSierra On-Line BBS at Lake Tahoe, CA, (916) 577-4438
with capability to 9600-baud, 24-hrs a day. HighSierra On-Line
joins the existing network consisting of the Feedhorn BBS ,
TriState Data Exchange and the Hertzian Intercept to make it
easier to get technical support and the latest scoop on the HB-232.
Welcome to SysOp Frank Gaude of the HighSierra On-Line,
another BBS to tickle the gourmet palates of you modem freaks!
FROM THE READERS
From Alan Parlato. NY : Voila! A.I.E. successfully adapted my
TCF-4 to run with a speeded up 16 MHz PRO-2006. Got both
back last Friday (8/28) and have used heavily over the weekend.
Unit works same as a regular TCF-4 with a 12 MHz PRO-2006.
At my request, A.I.E. also changed the "default" to carrier squelch
where before it defaulted to mute. Also the squelch triggering was
adjusted to allow for quicker opening with lower levels of signal.
For your info, the "FIFO" which they initially tried did not work.
They finally programmed an entire new chip for the PRO-2006/16.
Tony really went out of his way on this one. Too bad more
companies don't give service like this!
The cost for the rework was $500, but Tony offered to split with
me in the hope that other 2006/16 owners will purchase a TCF-4
with the new chip One of his customers saw my 2006 while it was
there and I think you will be hearing from him for some mods.
In the end, I agree with your assessment 100%. It turned out to be
very pricey for me! But in a major metro area like NYC, the
difference in scanning is like night and day with so many out of
state co-channel users tying up the scanner. I'm very pleased.
There's only a few minor "peculiarities", nothing major—a
"learned" type of thing, as you say. It also works fine with your
MOD-44 Data/Tone Squelch!
It was a pleasure dealing with Tony. I'm sure the future will bring
new and exciting units from A.I.E. Regards/Alan Parlato
EDITOR'S REPLY: I am pleased for you, Alan. You're right
that not many companies will work so intently to please one
person. Of course, this can't be done unless there is reasonable
hope for a larger return sometime in the future. A company that
loses money or fails to profit is a company that doesn’t last long.
I think in your case, A.I.E. performed a valued personal service
and chalked some of the cost up to Research & Development,
which any healthy, growing company must do. Either not enough
R&D or too much of it has caused many a company to go down the
tubes. I’ll betcha A.I.E. learned something from that ordeal and
learning is worth something, no matter what. No doubt, the Hobby
will prosper in part, thanks to you and to A.I.E. 73/Bill
From Richard Allen. NJ : I decided to renew my subscription to
the WSR for 1993 on the hope that the WSR will return to the
format that the 1991 issues covered. As with other subscribers that
you have quoted in the 1992 WSR, I believe too much has been
devoted this year to computers. There is nothing wrong with a
balanced publication but I subscribed for articles and information
on scanners. I enjoyed the 1991 articles and have both of your mod
books, but if I want information on computers. I'll buy a computer
book, not a book or pub on scanners. By the way, I have and use a
PC at home and at work. I also use mainframe computers at work
where I maintain computerized accounting systems, so I am
interested in computers. But the 1992 WSR has been overkill
about computerized monitoring rather than balanced issues. Please
consider a return to more info on scanners, product reviews,
problem solving, mods, etc. Thank you, Richard Allen
The "WORLD SCANNER REPORT" (c) 1991-2; V2N9: October, 1992; Page 2
From Mike Flenz. WT : Your articles on computer-related items
for scanning are starting to push me closer to finally "taking the
plunge" and buying a computer. Keep up the articles and advice
on what to look for in a computer to make it useful in radio-related
applications. However, please keep room in WSR for the basic
scanner hacking mods and how-to articles, and late-breaking news
on new scanners and "no punches held" reviews. Mike Flenz
From Paul Hagood. NM : Doc: Enclosed is my renewal for the
WSR which is enough in itself to show my satisfaction. I was glad
to see "The Computer Comer": as I'm not a computer owner now,
but plan on buying one soon to go with the PRO-2006 I ordered
yesterday from Marymac (800) 231-3680. (Bruce was on vacation,
I spoke to Joe, $299 delivered, GREAT) All the computer info I
can get will help, and I'll be using your info as my criterion for
computer purchase.73/ Paul Hagood
EDITOR'S REPLY TO RICHARD . MIKE & PAULl Richard, I
notice in our data base that you do not report owning a PRO-2004,
2005 or 2006. I do see that the scanners you reported are not
capable of being interfaced to a computer. While you may be very
computer-literate, perhaps even more so than I, it is clear that you
have no application for mixing scanners and computers.
Therefore, your position is understandable.
Mike & Paul, you each own a PRO-2006 in addition to other
scanners. Pm sure it's no coincidence that you lean toward mixing
computing with scanning. Your positions, too, are understandable,
even if the HB-232 Interface is not among your interests.
To ALL: There are several reasons why scanning and computing
will be forever entwined and why the "WSR" will be required to
support the topic. First and foremost, perhaps is underscored by
the 1275 MHz of scanner spectrum which simply cannot be
managed by the human mind. A simple computer and a half-assed
Database Manager program will keep track of your scanner
frequencies far better than your memory and a bunch of penciled
or typewritten notes can handle. If your interests include only a
few frequencies out of a small slice of the spectrum, then perhaps
your memory and notes will do. But you are the minority. Most
scannists are interested in a number of subjects and radio
emissions in the spectrum between 25 MHz and 1300 MHz. Add to
this, the preponderance of scanners with 200-400 channels and up
not to mention the ease of memory expansions to as many as
25,600 channels, and it becomes abundantly clear that only a
computer can serve the hobbyist's best long term interests. It's like
this: an engine mechanic may very well be absorbed by the magic
and wonder of the modern internal combustion engine, but that
mechanic has to be something of an appreciator of fine tools, as
well. The modern scannist who wants to hear all there is to hear
and to be on top of as much as possible has no choice BUT to
integrate a little computing with his/her scanning.
The "WSR" will respect and honor that genuine need, but I
emphasize again that we will not become a computer magazine.
You are right, Richard, there are enough computer 'zines out and
about which do a better job than we ever could. We will, however,
continue to explore the limits of scanning and let our Readers
decide individually how high and how far they want to go. This
means that computing and scanning are here to stay as a pair
but. . we will also continue to explore the arts and sciences of
the scanners, as stand-alone instruments. I don't seriously propose
that we can develop a mod a month, though. Gee, I don't have the
resources to do that. Imagine the "WSR" becoming the "Mod-A-
Month Club"! Hardly! But we are going to continue to explore
and exploit scanners for all they're worth, and throw computing in
as a major ingredient. Frankly, 1 don't know how to do any
different, but this means that there is going to be a little something
for everyone as much as we can make it possible.
From Jose Villafane. CT : Dear Doctor Rigormortis : I have an
S-Meter on my 2005/6 and have conducted various tests with $400
worth of antennas. After all these frustrating tests, I found two
antennas to work best. One is the Scantenna from Grove
Enterprises which is excellent on all frequencies from 25 MHz to
1300 MHz. I can bring in stations 45 miles away without problem.
The second antenna is a 7-element, 12 dB, Yagi Beam Antenna
which is only for 800MHz and up. I didn’t believe the salesman at
Transel Technologies when I talked to him, that I could receive a
signal that many miles away. The antenna is 41 feet above ground
and has been monitoring 800 MHz, 42 miles away for about a
month now, with best reception after 8 pm, EDT. The best tool of
all is the S-meter. Without that, I would have never known which
antenna really works best.
Back to the TCF-4; I have researched this and found that you
cannot use the TCF-4 on PRO-2004/5/6 receivers without
changing the chip inside to match each scanner; told this by the
technician at A.I.E. Corp. I have a TCF-4 on my modified and
sped up 2006, and have had no problem whatsoever with its
performance. Everything is stated clearly on the instructions, step
by step, and when I ran into a small problem with installation, I
called the company and the technician guided me step by step with
the procedure over the phone; so I can't understand why Alan
Parlato from NY had problems with the RJ-45 jack when the
instructions give the measurements as to where it can be installed.
The hardest part was an error in the instruction sheet. It said D45
but the correct one was D46 muting line, otherwise everything else
was a piece of cake. I figured this was important information to
share with other readers.
I heard that you were a genius in CB radio a few years back. I'm
starting to get into it a little bit and would like to know if you have
any issues of the Eleven Meter Times & Journal left? Also, please
send any additional info you may have on CBs & performance.
I have a Cobra 21, 23 channel, peaked out to 10 watts. I also have
a peaked out Realistic 40 channel, with a power mike, but like
everyone else. I want to make it better. On my mobile, I'm using a
K40 antenna and on my home base, an Antron-99 antenna, but I
still want to make my performance better. When I start getting
into trouble, that's when I know I've hit the limit with
experimenting and that's the best part. Jose Villafane, CT
EDITOR'S REPLY: I've heard pretty good things about the
Scantenna, but I don't know too much about it. If I bought every
little gadget and gizmo to hit the radio market, I'd be in the poor
The "WORLD SCANNER,REPORT" (c) 1991-2; V2N9: October, 1992; Page 3
house so fast all your back issues of the WSR would disappear
before your eyes. My guess is, at the price, its a winner. I don't
know and haven't heard ANYTHING about that Transel Yagi
antenna. Please provide me with the mfgr's address & phone!
Regarding Mr. Parlato's TCF-4 and the RJ-45 jack: I had installed
it for him, but apparently it was defective from the factory. I had
no way to test it at the time as he did not provide the TCF-4. I had
done some other work for him and installed the TCF-4 jack
incidental to the other work. I have worked with only one TCF-4
and that only briefly. A.I.E. was supposed to send me one for
evaluation, but I've heard nothing from them so far.
Careful of that CB stuff, Jose! The FCC is getting badder and
badder all the time. In just a few short years, 1 ha\’e seen the
maximum fines raised from a limit of $500 to $2000 and now it's
something like $15,000 per offense. Yes, I was a "master" of the
Citizens Band during its heyday of 1972-1987. I got in on the
ground floor in 1959 when the band was created and bailed out
after FCC trouble came in '87-'88. I don't mess with the stuff
anymore. Actually, the FCC first paid me a social call way back
in 1981 or so. I won that little encounter, but they stayed zeroed
in on me ever since, I suppose. Anyway, you ain't interested in all
that ancient history. Radio performance is what's hot.
And peaking up those little radios ain't hot, but not for legal
reasons. Aw, for sure, you want that modulation to be as close to
100% as possible and the AM carrier to be right on 4-watts, but
man, there ain't a CB rig out there that can handle 10-watts with
any quality! Besides that, it ain't the carrier power that gives a
transmitter its performance; rather it's the TALK POWER or Peak
Envelope Power. Far better to have a carrier of 4-watts or less
and "forward modulate" to 12-watts than to have a 10-watt carrier
and "downward modulate" to 4-watts. Yuk! Also, if you run a
linear amplifier, it's far better to underdrive it for a lower than
maximum carrier and let the modulation drive it to peak levels.
Your signal punch ain't ever going to exceed peak anyway, so it's
better AND cleaner to underdrive the carrier and maximize the
modulation. There is no intelligence on the carrier; ONLY in the
modulation. ONLY when you're sending CW is carrier power all
But what is important, in addition to TALK POWER, is the same
hot stuff as what's important to SCANNER performance: the
antenna. I've said it before and I'll say it again: if I had $1000 to
spend on a radio station, I'd have a $10 radio and a $990 antenna
system. There are THREE goshawful important factors to consider
in your antenna system: (1) loss between radio & antenna, the
lower the better, (2) GAIN (dB) of the antenna, the higher, the
better, and (3) height of the antenna above ground level and
nearby obstacles; the higher the better. This says it all in a
nutshell, although books could be written to elaborate on the finer
points. There are minor considerations for specific application
antennas, like for scanners where bandwidth is very important. It's
not terribly important for CB unless you're also a Free bander and
happen to operate between 25.5 MHz - 27.995 MHz. Few
antennas perform very well over THAT range without a little work.
I edited/published the "ELEVENMETER TIMES & JOURNAL"
between May, 1983 and April, 1988, when the FCC intervened to
shut it down for good. We still maintain yearly sets of the back
issues, an Index for which is available for $3.00, ppd. I'm not sure
that much more can be said about how to get the most out of a CB
station than in the EMTJ, which probably has something to do
with why the FCC wanted it shut down. The EMTJ remains
relatively current in technique and principle, but is certainly
outdated where products and data are concerned, so I don't know
how much value it can represent for you. Maybe you should tiy a
yearly set before committing to all five years' worth. I have been
away from the CB and Freehand scenes for so long now that I am
not an expert anymore. Lots of products, radios and antennas
have come and gone in the last four years. I can safely say that
the best radios on the market today are still the Cobra 2000 GTL
base and the Cobra 148 GTL mobile. These units have been in
continuous production since 1978 and remain the best there is.
There are some pretty hot EXPORT radios out and around, but
these are of a different class and are grossly illegal, not to mention
lacking in performance in the receiver department. If the
Freehand piques your interest, both the Cobras can be illegally
tricked out to operate between 25.5 MHz and 27.995 MHz. You
still wind up with a hot little receiver, which to my way of thinking,
is half the idea of communications in the first place. Transmitting
is only the other half; no more and no less important than
receiving. What's said is worthless if no one can hear or
understand it. Hope this is helpful to you. 73/Bill
Radio Shack has introduced another fairly decent scanner, the
PRO-2026, basically a clone of the Uniden BC-760/950XLT and
the Regency R-1600. In fact, the 2026 is very much identical to
the Uniden/Regency versions with two exceptions: the 2026 has
the 108-118 MHz radionavigation band, and cellular capability is
MUCH easier to restore. Because of the close similarities between
the PRO-2026 and the Uniden/Regency versions, we'll dispense
with any further discussion and get down to the cellular mod as
paraphrased from the September issue of " Monitoring Times":
The 2026 has cellular frequencies deleted at the factory, but
restoration is the easiest yet. Clip one marked wire! You need
only a Phillips screwdriver and wire cutters.
1. Remove the four side screws from the bottom cover. Pull the
cover loose and set it aside.
2. Facing the front of the 2026 and with the bottom side exposed,
locate the small circuit board in the lower right-hand comer and
find jumper L201. Cut L201 and separate the cut ends.
3. Reassemble the radio which now has continuous 806-956 MHz
coverage and 30 KHz search increments in the cellular band.
EDITOR'S NOTE: 30 KHz Step Increments!? That's what was
said in "Monitoring Times". The BC-760/950XLT will SEARCH
the cellular bands ONLY in 12.5 KHz increments, so perhaps this
is another favorable difference among these clones. For all
intents and purposes, the PRO-2026 is clearly the better radio and
at a lower price, too! I don't know about its hackability, but the
2026 should have all the potential of the Uniden/Regency clones.
The "WORLD SCANNER REPORT" (c) 1991-2; V2N9: October, 1992; Page 4
MORE ON THE REALISTIC PRO-43
The new PRO-43 looks better and better all the time. It's a real
hot-dawg in the receiver department with triple conversion IFs and
an AGC-controlled front end. A little work, less arduous than for
the PRO-34/37, though more critical, will result in restored cellular
performance AND limited performance in the 54-88 MHz bands.
The detailed procedures for these two mods are paraphrased from
the September issue of "Monitoring Times" as follows:
SUGGESTED TOOLS: Fine tipped, medium power soldering
pencil; desolder wick and/or a desoldering tool; forceps or pointed
tweezers; small Phillips screwdriver; solder.
1. Remove the battery, antenna and back cover (held in place by
2. Remove the six screws holding the top circuit board in place.
Carefully desolder the two antenna connections from the board.
Bend the antenna ground tab fully up from the board. Carefully
lift the board, unplugging the black connector at its base, and lay
the board out of the way on its bundle of colored wires.
3. Remove the two screws from the next board and lift it, carefully
unplugging the white connector at the bottom of the board. Lift it
up and lay it aside on its brown wire (which can be unplugged if
4. Desolder and remove the metal shield from the final board,
revealing the microprocessor; note the row of diodes labelled Dl-
D5 above it. Only diodes Dl, D2 and D4 are present; assisted by a
pointed tool, desolder and remove D4. (This restores cellular
frequencies which will be searched in 30 KHz steps.)
5. Resolder the removed diode carefully into the empty position for
D-3 to extend low band coverage from 54 MHz to 88 MHz.
6. Reassemble the scanner, paying particular attention to the
alignment of the plugs. Test the radio by entering any frequency
between 870-890 MHz (cellular) and 54-88 MHz (low band).
PRO-43 DISCUSSION: The PRO-43 approaches the ICOM R-l
in degree of miniaturization and high density electronics. There is
a huge amount of electronics packed into the PRO-43 in a volume
less than of its predecessors, the PRO-34/37. I have been rather
successful with some interesting mods in these two, but I’ll not
eagerly anticipate any serious hacks of the PRO-43. There isn’t
much room inside this puppy to do anything real serious and I
rather suspect that the cellular & Euro-VHF band restorations will
be about the extent of it for most hackers. Memory expansion
seems not likely at the present time, mostly because a "new"
technique is used: a pair of NVRAMs (non-volatile RAM),
probably EEPROMs, are used for frequency/channel storage. I say
"new" because NVRAM is new to Realistic scanners. However,
the Uniden BC-200XLT and BC-100XLT use NVRAM for
storage, too. I'm not sure how well this concept will work out
because NVRAM used to have a limit of the number of storage
operations that could be performed before the chip went south.
Perhaps this limitation has been overcome now. In any event, the
more conventional memory expansion techniques will not work in
the PRO-43, and I would be reluctant to try anything real esoteric.
A speedup may be possible by changing out the 4.19 MHz Clock
resonator, CX-1, with something a bit faster, but geez I don't know
for sure if it would work. At 25-ch/sec, I'd be inclined to leave
well enough alone. The PRO-43 draws about 85-100 ma of
current, squelched, from a fully charged battery pack at 8.6 volts.
This would suggest five to eight hours of operating time between
recharges on a 600-mA/H pack.
The PRO-43 is quite a power house with triple conversion IF's of
609 MHz., 48.5 MHz and 455 KHz, thereby eliminating image
interference. An AGC-controlled front end with four bandpass
filters: 30-54 MHz, 118-174 MHz, 220-512 MHz and 806-1000
MHz minimizes or virtually eliminates other internally generated
interference, including overload, desensitization & intermod.
Limited testing so far, along with a detailed review of the
schematic diagrams leads me to suspect that the PRO-43 is perhaps
the best handheld scanner yet the pure reception department. It
may not have the full coverage of the AT-1000XC, Icom R-land
the FairMate & Yupiteru Continental models, but as a VHF-UHF
scanner, I think the PRO-43 will hold its own with the rest. You
can hardly go wrong at $275 from Marymac, (800) 231-3690
The "WORLD SCANNER REPORT" (c) 1991-2; V2N9: October, 1992; Page 5
THE COMPUTER CORNER
The REAL BASICS OF DATABASES & DATA PROCESSING!
Relax! We won't talk much about computers THIS MONTH.
Instead, let's take another look at databases and information
management: two important subjects, whether or not you have a
computer. All the the better, if you do, but those who don't know a
computer from a pretzel will also benefit. Everyone collects and
processes data and information. So what are the meanings of and
differences between information and data ? Information is
knowledge obtained from research, study or instruction. Data is
factual information , as in measurements or statistics, and is a
basis for reasoning, discussion or calculation. Differences are
minor, but books embody information more so than data while
charts, lists, tables and directories mostly contain data.
Ok, now let's talk about scanner FREQUENCY record- keeping.
Your shack probably contains lists or books of frequencies, one of
which is POLICE CALL like Radio Shack peddles. They are all
organized about the same way, typically: CITY, USER, MISC,
FREQ, MISC, CALLSIGN. Now, lets build an example with four
categories of data, the first in Channel Number order, ascending:
BY CHANNEL NUMBER
Police - North Area
Aeronautical Emergency Worldwide
No problem to memorize and keep track of THIS data, but
multiplied a hundred or a thousand times, then either you won't
have a useful record system or else you'll burn the midnight oil to
create a system. We'll make a good system with three more tables
like the above, but each organized differently. Here's what I mean:
Police - North Area
Police - North Area
Police - North Area
Look at all the trouble you'd have to go to just to keep tabs on and
have quick access to the data contained in just four records. The
more fields per record, the more ways that data has to be organized
to make it useful. The preceding boxes can each be considered a
file; each line, a record and each column, a field. Suppose you
wanted to add a column or field for CALL SIGN and another for
the type of RADIO SERVICE? Fine and dandy, but you'll have to
make up two more boxes, one organized in call-sign order and the
other in order of radio service.
If you don't get down to the nitty gritty of organizing your data,
and if you have any at all, it won't be accessible and you won't take
advantage of it. Here, let me prove something to you: take any and
all frequency directories that you might have! Oh, you use them,
all right, but you sure as heck don't wear the pages out flipping 'em
back and forth as the scanner races along, hitting one frequency
after another! Directories are useful for making up lists of the
frequencies to be programmed into your scanner, but they're not
great for quickly looking up things as needed when you're actively
engaged in scanning. Lists or maybe index cards organized along
the lines of what's shown in the boxes on the preceding page are
among the few alternatives available to you for reasonably quick
and useful access to your data. No matter what, it takes a lot of
work to set up a data retrieval system, and then if your system is on
paper, it takes a hell of a lot of work to use and maintain it. Now,
let me trip your trigger.
Suppose you lived in an area, as I do, where something over 10,000
frequencies are known to be in use? Imagine setting up five to ten
columns of data, ten-thousand lines deep! You'd never do it with
pen & paper or typewriter, that's for sure. But there is a way to do
it, almost painlessly, depending on if you want to spend a few
bucks and if you have a computer. There, I said that nasty word
again. Sorry. But if you take your scanning seriously, and most of
you claim you do, then you are missing out on a MAJOR facet of
the Hobby if you don't have an efficient data retrieval system.
Knowledge of what you're doing can be a cubic inch or a cubic
mile, and either degree can be fun, but believe me, you're missing
out on the best of the best without an information handling system
to support your efforts.
Ok, so you have taken a lot of time and trouble to organize and
compile your scanner frequency records onto some neat, clean
sheets of paper or a stack of index cards. You have just invented a
"database". The distinguishing characteristic of a paper database is
that YOU work for it more than it works for you. If you are a
serious scannist, you'll just grit your teeth, roll up your sleeves, and
commit yourself to the drudgery of maintaining paper records.
After all, it's necessary. Unless you have a computer and a
database manager, of course!
Computer databases were recently introduced here in the "WSR"
by Perry Joseph over a five-part series of articles. Mr. Joseph
covered the "paper trail" all the way through computer databases. I
let a couple of issues go by without further mention to soak the
subject into you more astute readers. Now we have to continue the
discussion to greater depths because data retrieval systems are
going to be a VITAL sideline to scanning in the coming years.
Here's why: there are at least fourteen scanners on the USA
market that have 100 or more -programmable channels. That
The "WORLD SCANNER REPORT" (c) 1991-2; V2N9: October, 1992; Page 6
number will jump tills Fall or Winter when Uniden announces a
new product line. As a matter of fact, there is really no technical
or cost reason NOT to produce a seamier with 100-channels or
more nowadays. Memory chip prices have really dropped in recent
times. I think the era is coming when 50-100 channels will be
considered "entry-level" and "journeyman" levels will be 400-1000
channels. Over a year ago, I demonstrated die ease of slam-
dunking 25,600-channels into die PRO-2004/5/6, so die main
limitation now facing us is not the technology or cost of memory as
it once was; rather the big obstruction now is HOW to program and
maintain very large channel memories. While diere are at least
three scanners on the market widi 1,000 or more channels, the
manufacturers know good and well that darned few hobbyists are
going to program that many by hand. It is no coincidence that two
of these mega-memory scanners also are equipped widi RS-232
interfaces for computer control & autoprogramming.
Still, even with a computer, that many channels are not going to be
effectively utilized without die aid of a database to go along with
the computer. Therefore, I view database management and
expertise of use to be a vital class-prerequisite before die market
can be expected to venture forth widi much more in die way of
high technology digital scanners. If die manufacturers perceive the
hobby to be ready for them, there will be no reason to not make the
offering. Whether they do or not isn't the prime focus here simply
because I have shown the scanner community HOW to muldply
memory by 2 to 63 in as many as ten different scanners. We can
do it ourselves, but without the proper tools to work with, it hardly
seems worth the while. In fact, the 400-channel PRO-2004/5/6 are
a little too much to manage by hand ; or don't you agree?
There are two ways to acquire the kind of data diat is best suited
for both your scanning hobby and a computer database manager.
The first way that you will want to master, but not udlize any more
than necessary is copying frequency data from published books,
guides, lists and your own old handwritten or typed data. It took
me the better part of two years, on and off, to make a computerized
file of 5,000 frequencies for the San Diego area! You really don't
want to do MUCH of diis sort of diing, believe me! But you will
always have to do some.
The BEST way to acquire data for your computer is directly from
another computer file! And there are several sources, the most
common of which is frequency data from computer BBS's, friends'
computer files and commercial frequency data sold on disk by
companies and individuals. For example, you can buy the entire
FCC database for something like $10,000, which averages to about
$200 per state. Obviously, this is OUT for all but the most affluent
companies and individuals. To the other extreme, more and more
BBS's around the country have a sideline in scanning and
encourage hobbyists to post their frequency lists on the board
which become available for downloading by other patrons. A
middle-of-the-road approach and possibly the best of them all has
become available over the last couple of years!
Grove Enterprises (publishers of "Monitoring Times Magazine")
has been making available to hobbyists the FCC Database on a per-
state basis! The Grove Database comes with a limited use database
manager, sometimes called "FoxPro". Grove didn't look very far
ahead with the present incarnation of the FCC Database and you
can't do a hell of lot with it, as it comes out of the package, though
it greatly exceeds POLICE CALL and other directories.
Depending on your state, the Grove Database can be MASSIVE.
For example, the California FCC Database contains 250,000
records and requires about 38-Mb of hard drive space for
installation, after which about 15-Mb is required to operate the
database. The smallest Grove Database state is Vermont at 6,500
records, requiring about 2-Mb of hard drive space for installation
but then only 380-kb for operation. Once The Grove Database has
been installed, the excess megabytes are not needed. An average
of all states in the Grove Database comes to 42,000 records with 8-
Mb required for installation and 2.5 Mb to operate. Your state will
differ, of course, but this average is typical for the states of
Louisiana and Iowa. Much LESS than average are Rhode Island,
Delaware and District of Columbia, while Texas, Florida and
Pennsylvania are much GREATER than average.
I said that the Grove Database and its FoxPro manager are of
limited use. That depends, I guess. If you are a beginner hobbyist
or a computer neophyte, the Grove Database for your state will
amaze and astound you, for at the touch of a key, you can quickly
find frequency information for most any city, company or non-
federal agency within your state. THAT might seem like the end
of the world and WHAT ELSE could we possibly want to do with a
database? True, it is awesome and for a time, you maybe won't
want to do anything else with it. In any event, the Grove Database
is about the only game in town for an exhaustive computer-based
frequency record for your state. And the price is within reason.
For advanced scannists and those computists who know their way
around a database manager, the Grove Database leaves something
to be desired. For example, every entry in the FREQUENCY field
begins either with a "K" or an "M" to signify Kilohertz or
Megahertz.. This can be unwieldy when using the data in your
own database manager and/or to do something useful like
AUTOPROGRAM your scanner through an Interface! I had to
strip all these prefix letters off and move the decimal three places
to the left for those with a "K" to get the frequency data into a
usable format for automated programming. Another liability of the
Grove Database is that there are no regional or county fields. This
is a problem because most monitoring shacks can cover the
majority of a county and perhaps an adjacent one, but you're not
interested in frequency records upstate. So, for maximal use, you
have to use the SORT and QUERY functions to select specific
CITIES of interest within the area of coverage. Here in San Diego
County, there are no less than 40-50 cities and towns that I had to
manually cull from the Grove Database. Such an important data¬
base should also have a COUNTY field or at least fields for
LATITUDE and LONGITUDE to permit the scannist to select
records from ONLY within a desired area or region.
Not to worry: at least two efforts are underway to develop user tools
to overcome some of the deficiencies of the Grove Database. One
of them is in Beta Test and can be downloaded from the Hertzian
Intercept BBS from File Area #3 under the title, FIXDELGD.ZIP.
DataFile, Inc., which brought PROSCAN and SHERLOCK to you
is working on another promising tool called XPORTFCC, but we
can't say much more at the moment other than it will grab data
from the Grove Database and make it compatible for Auto-
Programming the HB-232 Scanner/Computer Interface!
The "WORLD SCANNER REPORT" (c) 1991-2; V2N9: October, 1992; Page 7
The bottom line is that any reasonably serious scannist needs a
computer and a database manager program to ease the drudgery of
data acquisition and processing. The Grove FCC Database is a
significant market entry for this purpose. Despite its shortcomings,
the Grove Database comes with my highest recommendations as a
major tool for the journeyman to master scannist. Call Grove
Enterprises at (800) 438-8155 for info about your state.
Now, back to the basics for a wrap up. A database is an organized
accumulation of data. A database manager is a computer program
that organizes and accumulates data. The Grove FCC Database
comes with the database for your state AND a database manager
program to handle it. I think you can order JUST the database at a
reduced cost if you already have a dBASE (.DBF) compatible
database manager program. There are all kinds, types and styles of
database manager programs on the market, from the commercial
Cadillacs of dBase IV and Paradox to shareware types such as
PROFILE and FILE EXPRESS to freeware, although I don't know
of any in the last category. Simply put, YOU need a computer and
a database manager, and that's all there is to it. We will deal with
the inner workings of database managers and how to use them in
the coming months, and whether you're a raw neophyte or a
grizzled expert, I rather suspect we'll have something to offer most
everyone on this continuing and increasingly important subject.
If you want to get a head start on preparing YOUR frequency data
for use in a database manager program, then you should, without
asking too many questions, start laying out your data in a logical,
orderly manner, allowing for not only what you think you need
NOW, but also for what you will need LATER when you become
experienced and knowledgeable in the art and science of database
management. Right now, you may be using a very elementary
form of record keeping or data arrangement like that shown on
page 6 of this issue. You need to allow for growth and for
unknowns in the future. It is strongly recommend that you arrange
your database as follows: (The NAME of the field is in <brackets>
followed by number of characters or spaces needed in the field.)
FIELDS & CHARACTER REQUIREMENTS OF A
SCANNER FREQUENCY DATABASE
Field 10: <Time>
Please hold questions for now but in brief, the AutoProgrammer of
the HB-232 Scanner/Computer Interface requires the first six
fields and ignores the rest. The HB-232's AutoLogger logs to the
first 11 fields. Fields 12-20 are required of most any database just
for the sake of the information value and to offer markers on which
to quickly look up given records. For example, if you heard
someone give a call sign, you could go right to your database and
have it "look" for that exact one, or one close to it. Just because the
first 11 fields are used by the HB-232 doesn't mean that YOU can't
use them, too, even if you never own an HB-232 or other
controller. Think about it: every one of these Fields with possible
exception of Fields 8 and 11 are really very generic and useful.
We're about to confront a major issue: a need for standard formats
and layouts of scanner frequency databases! It is often very tedious
and time consuming to convert data in one layout to that of
another. In fact, there are people who make a very good living
doing just that! I'm not going to fight to the death over the matter,
but my proposed Scanner Frequency Database format and layout is
proposed as a starting standard for the scanner hobby. So far, I
have seen not less than a dozen scanner frequency databases
concocted for various and sundry purposes and while each has
merits over the rest, none combine it all, and none are really
complimentary to or compatible with the rest. We need standards
to foster order and sense out of chaos and disarray. Imagine some
people driving on the right side of the road and others on the left.
The scanning hobby might fare best to promote a standard layout
and format for frequency files to facilitate the sharing and use of
data! It is a lot easier to manipulate and arrange database info
than I have let on here, but lack of a standard format serves only to
keep the average hobbyist from advancing. The state of the art of
existing technology coupled with the power of the computer, even a
cheap one, now offers the hobbyist more latent power than ever,
but it will remain dormant until we come up to speed on databases.
Coming articles in this comer will focus on database management
and how to make the most out of what you have to work with. If
you will begin to organize your scanner frequency data along the
lines as proposed herein, or even CLOSE to it, you'll gain a head
start with some momentum for the coming New Age of Scanning!
NEW LEDS NOW AVAILABLE!
Take a quick look at Radio Shack's 10-segment bargraph LED,
#276-081, page 124 of the new 1993 catalog. Nice, but no cigar.
Now, imagine something similar, but which comes as interlocking
1, 2, 3, 4 or even 5 LEDs in one bargraph block and which are
made so that you can combine any number of segments AND
colors to meet your own special needs! I received a sample that
consisted of a 5-segment green block; a three segment yellow block
and a 2-segment red block. After I slid them together, the size and
looks were similar to the RadioShack bargraph above, except in the
stated colors for a much more attractive block especially suited for
S-Meters, Center Tune Meters, etc. For more info about these neat
LEDs, contact: LEDTRONICS, 4009 Pacific Coast Hwy;
Torrance, CA 90505. (310) 549-9995 or Fax (310) 549-4820.
ANOTHER NEW LED COMES! Well, they have been out for a
while at about ten bucks a pop, but BLUE LEDs are now becoming
better known and available. The price has dropped to the extreme
upper limit of reason at $2.80 ea at DigiKey (800) 344-4539. Blue
LEDs are now available in both T-1.75 and T-l sizes. The forward
voltage drop of a blue LED is higher than typical LEDs at 3.0 to
3.4 volts, and they can't withstand a reverse voltage any greater
than 5.0 volts, so you have to be careful or lose your money in a
wisp of smoke. Current drain runs about 30-ma. The wavelength
is 470-nm and the intensity is about 4-13 med, depending.
The "WORLD SCANNER REPORT" (c) 1991-2; V2N9: October, 1992; Page 8
TAPE RECORDER JACKS & AUTOMATIC TAPE RECORDER SWITCHES
R£Rk ViGvJ OP FIGUF
_ - mi DDLS LUO- ,
/ Leave alons!
LUG-5 FOR \ f
DC POVJeRj^E /
svJircH >- x .
Don' rmess ojith ’em’.
Refer to Back Issues of the WSR for the
specific Squelch Gate pin in your scanner.
V1N4 & V1N9 have this Info for a
number of other scanners. In all cases,
the ATRS uses the Squelch Gate Signal to
trigger the Remote Relay.
SQUELCH CflfiT -
IC-2 Pid 13 .
iN Fko-zokH ^
_____- shield -
RG-nN/U OR M/Nl-RUHE CABLE
To TAPE REC
y^N 3164 >
\ NPN ,
SPDT PetAj- 12-VOLT
raw'd shack aie-zHI
Neither control wire to tape recorder's Remote Jack can be grounded
to the scanner! This method calls for use of the L & R lugs of a 1/8”
stereo phono jack with nothing connectred to the ground lug! In my
Rook #2, R-f was spec'd to beqf^k; change it to 10-k for best results!
fcftQuMD 1 1
A/c con /veer //
til to */Y
" VOLTS SUPPLY
Twe Re c
+12 to +/V\/
1 SPOT eOLAy
J v TAPS Rec
! 1 9 i-
The "WORLD SCANNER REPORT" (c) 1991-2; V2N9: October, 1992; Page 9
PHONE^_ } _
TYPE OF SCANNERS:
| Any Single Copy, your choice
J 1991 (1st Year, Jan-Nov/Dec)
| 1992 (3rd 6-mo, Jan-May/Jun)
J 1991-2 (All the above)
| WSR .CUR R EN T SUPSCR IP
J Half Year
| One Year
I Two Years
METHOD OF Check M.O. Visa MasterCard COD (Add $7.50) | Amount Enclosed |
USA $$ Amounts
1 ea $ 4.00 $_
10 ea $23.00 $_
5 ea $15.00 $_
15 ea $35.00 $_
5 ea $15.00 $_
10 ea $25.00 $_
20 ea $45.00 $_
PAYMENT » _ _ _
Signature Required (for credit card purchases)
$_ | HOBBY RADIO BUYER'S DIRECTORY $14.95 ppd surf $_
| Amount Charged | SCANNER MOD HNDBK, Vol-1: $17.95 + $4.00 S&H $_
$_ | SCANNER MOD HNDBK, Vol-2: $17.95+ $4.00 S&H $_
| HB-232 Interface Kit: $169.95 + $5 S&H; Foreign $10 S&H $_
_| * Canada US$5 S&H; Other Foreign US$7 S&H; extra for Air Mail
| CALIF RESIDENTS ADD 7.75% Sales Tax to ALL purchases! $_
| US FUNDS PAYABLE TO: COMMTRONICS ENGINEERING TOTAL: $_
ADDING A TAPE JACK TO ANY RADIO!
I am asked this all the time, so let's do a rundown on TAPE
RECORDER circuits and what it takes to add a TAPE REC jack to
just about ANY radio, be it a scanner, shortwave, auto or table-top
special. It's easy and you don't hardly have to think about it.
Modern tape recorders are very sensitive instruments and it doesn't
take much of a signal to get a very good recording. Too much
signal, though, makes for an overdriven recording that can sound
flat and distorted, not to mention NOISY. Many hobbyists are
given to recording from the headphone jacks or external speaker
terminals of a radio. Yuk! There is a much better way to record
the audio signals from almost any kind of a radio and it's easy. All
you need is an RCA phono jack. Radio Shack 274-346 or 274-852;
a bit of miniature shielded coax or microphone cable, RG-174U or
Radio Shack 278-510, and a coupling capacitor, 0.1-uF/16v of
about any type, though tantalum is preferred, RS #272-1432.
All radios detect and amplify the RF signal from the antenna to a
suitable level before conversion or "detection" to audio. The audio
signal strength at the point of detection is more than adequate for
modern tape recorders, but this point will physically vary from one
radio to the next and is impossible to describe as a general rule.
On the other hand, there is one place in EVERY radio where this
low-level, clean, wideband audio signal is present and where even
if you're blind in one eye and can't see out of the other, you'll still
be able to readily locate: THE VOLUME CONTROL!
Virtually all volume controls have three lugs, though there may be
three more, if the receiver is stereo, and two or more may be used
in the ON/OFF switch section. We will focus on monaural radios
where only three lugs are used for the volume section. Do not be
concerned with the switched lugs for power on/off. Rather, find
the three lugs that are close together and typically along the rim or
side of the Volume Control. One end lug will be connected to
receiver ground via the shield of a mini coax feedline, or it may go
directly to a nearby ground pad via a short jumper wire. Identify
that grounded lug before proceeding.
The "WORLD SCANNER REPORT" (c)
Next there is a MIDDLE lug which feeds the volume-controlled
signal to the audio power amplifier. Forget the MIDDLE lug;
we're not interested in it. That leaves the remaining end lug which
carries the detected audio signal into the volume control. At that
point, which we shall call the 'high" lug, solder one lead of the
above mentioned capacitor. If the capacitor is polarized, then
solder the (+) lead to the "high" lug of the Volume Control;
otherwise, either lead of the capacitor can go here.
Next, drill a 1/4" hole at some convenient location on the radio's
chassis. Install the RCA Phono jack in this hole with a ground lug
& tab over the threaded shaft of the jack on the inside of the radio.
Now cut a piece of the mini-coax or mike cable to length to fit
neatly between the Volume Control and the new RCA jack.
Prepare the ends of this cable by peeling and separating the shield
part from the center conductor part. Solder the center conductor of
one end of this cable to the center lug of the new RCA jack. Solder
the center conductor of the other end of this cable to the free lead
of the capacitor at the Volume Control. Solder the shield of the
cable to the GROUNDED end lug of the Volume Control and
solder the shield at the other end of this cable to the ground lug on
the new RCA jack. That's it; you're done and all ready for some
fine tape recordings, and probably much better than you presently
get from any headphone and external speaker jacks. Refer to the
drawing(s) on page 9 for full visual impact of how easy this
modification is to perform to most any radio.
AUTOMATIC TAPE RECORDER SWITCHES
Also on page 9 are drawings (with minimal discussion) of several
varieties of Automatic Tape Recorder Switches that can be adapted
to most any scanner or other radio that uses a SQUELCH circuit!
If you want to know the full scoop on AutoTapeRecorderSwitches,
you'll need to see Vols 1 & 2 of my Scanner Modification
Handbooks . but the circuits here are plenty good enough for those
already acquainted with them and/or who know a little about
electronics with minimal guidance. In case you don't know, an
AutoTapeRecSwitch triggers the Remote function of a recorder
when a scanner signal is present and Pauses at all other times.
1991-2; V2N9: October, 1992; Page 10
COMMTRONICS ENGINEERING' s
” WORLD SCANNER REPORT'
PO BOX 262478
SAN DIEGO, CA 92196-2478
IN THIS ISSUE _ issn-1061-9240 FIRST CLASS MAIL
f Antenna Maintenance Before Winter Sets In: Hurry!
+ Renewal Time is Approaching; Check Mail Label
+ WARNING: Radio Shack's Diode Packs May Contain Wrong Types!
+ I IB-232 Scanner/Computer Interface Update; New BBS Joins the HB-232 Network
+ Reader Update: ATE's TCF-4; Readers on computers; Reader tests some antennas
+ Realistic PRO-2026; Cellular Restoration & More!
+ Realistic PRO-43; Restore Cellular & 54-88 MHz; Circuit discussion & Block Diagram
+ The Computer Comer: Basics of Databases & Data processing; Grove FCC Database
New LEDs Available for Hackers!; Also BLUE LED's now reasonably priced!
-t Add a Tape Recorder Jack to Most Any Radio; more Automatic Tape Recorder Switches!